What's the best Direct Vent Natural Gas water heater

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by brian oneill, May 4, 2005.

  1. brian oneill

    brian oneill New Member

    I need to replace a 20 year old 40 gallon direct vent gas water heater. The existing one was made by "State". Any opinions as to the best one to get?
  2. direct vent

    Probably the Bradford White is goingto be the best

    followed closely by Rheem, but they are very large

    I would not put a state or A.O.Smith in for my worst enemy
  3. jrejre

    jrejre New Member

    I have a gravity vented A.O. Smith natural gas 50 gallon unit that is about 12 years old without fault or failure of any kind.
  4. RioHyde

    RioHyde Plumber

    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Bradford White, Rheem, AO Smith are my choices in that order. I've had a 50 gal. natural gas AO Smith in my own house for the past 13 years and havent had any problems at all with it although I know replacement could be any day due to the age.
  5. water heaters

    SMITH once was a great water heater,
    if you got one 12 years old, yes you got a good one....

    the problem with them is about 1996 they moved their all their operations to MEXICO and the QUALITY went to hell in a hand basket ---downhill from there.

    anyway , on average with Bradford White or Rheem you can expect a defective unit maybe 1 in 150 that is not too bad.

    with Smith, you can expect a leaker right out of the box probably 1 in 20.
    and you simply cant afford to warranty these units ,

    the customers get pretty irate with you if only three year out you have to charge them to change the unit out.


    Because I usually change out on average about 4 Smith water heaters a WEEK under warranty for people in my area....usually about 4 years old.

    I charge them well for the service because no one else around here wants to mess with the paperwork.

    on a personal note......

    I installed a 50 gallon Gas Pro Max Smith water heater in my own home in Feb 3, 02 just for fun to see how long it would last, this was a free one.
    I would never buy one.

    Just last week, on Tuesday night , it blew a large hole out the bottom and came close to flooding my laundry room. It was literally ROARING out the bottom into the floor drain about a foot away.

    It Had a prv valve on the water system set at about 70psi and a large thermal expansion tank on the unit too.....

    I gave this unit every chance to change my mind about them.

    fellas , thats only about three years old.........thats not good.

    I took it out and installed a Bradford white 75 gallon at about 8.30 in the evening.

  6. Clayton

    Clayton Plumber

    Bradford White

    I'll add another vote for Bradford White....

    Wanted to ask what kind of paperwork are you dealing with on the Smith warranty water heaters??? In the past I use to just put the I.D. labels in an envelope and include the model and serial number of the unit I replaced it with and mail them in once a month. Now I just use a shapie and write the new units model and serial number on the old tank with the owners name and address. When my supplier comes to check my inventory he takes the labels off and takes care of everything from there.
  7. warranty labels

    all I do is call in the ser number and usually just take the warranty tag back to the supply house and hand them the name and address of the customer...

    I would rather see the credit written and made on the computor than to jsut trust my salesman to get around to it...

    on some mondays, we get hit with as many as 5 Smith water heaters to warranty.

    believe it or not, they dont ever want the heater back, all they want is the tag...

    no one elese in town seems to want to warranty their own work, so people are usually pretty disgusted by the time they find me in the yellow pages.

    so I usually charge between 275 and 450 depending on where and how far it is away...getting it done the same day demands a premium which most everyone is willing to pay.

    changeing out heaters is very easy work , all in all.
    Last edited: May 6, 2005
  8. Clayton

    Clayton Plumber

    "I would rather see the credit written and made on the computor than to jsut trust my salesman to get around to it..."

    Yeah I can understand that, but I guess we do things a little different in my neck of the woods. There are no supply houses in the area so it would take all day for me to do that. You could say we are pretty trusting with our suppliers, as they all have different entry codes to enter our warehouse. We work out of a warehouse with no secretary or shop employees on staff and the suppliers come and go as they please to check inventory, make deliveries and pick up any returns. The credits are always on the next invoices which are left with the additionaly deliveries the following day. Haven't had any problems doing it that way in the last 12 years. Sure cuts down on the overhead too.

    "believe it or not, they dont ever want the heater back, all they want is the tag..."

    I think they've taken 2 back from me, they where both New and leaked on installation. Go figure... wonder what they did with them, probably put some fix-a-flat in them and roll em around and send them back out.

    "changeing out heaters is very easy work , all in all."

    I dont know about easy work... But after installing an 80gl high recovery in a laundry mat by myself last week, all i can say is it was definitely work... I think the older I get, the more I am learning to enjoy the office work.
  9. the world of water heaters

    yes , the big ones are not fun....

    I try to shy away from them if I am short handed...

    the 75 gallon white gas units can jsut about kill you, so depending on the work load, I usually charge a premium or what everyone else is chargeing...
    I honestly dont want them.

    did you know that they really dont wnt the water heatetrs back at all????

    They would just rather take yoiur word for the leaker than have to actually haul that unit from your shop back to some de-marcation point down by the border????

    The trouible is today in this country, its just far cheaper jsut to give you another heater. It actually cost them probably 20 times more to let an American Teamster truck that junk somewhere . Once it touches a union teamsters hands, they start to hemmorage, so they wouild just give you one and save all that expence..... I think right now they take back one in

    Basically its the honor system , they dont ask and you dont tell.

    Another problem with water heaters is youir employees get spoiled doing them and dont want to do normal plumbing after a while. Its just a few minutes of grunt work and thats about it. then they sit on their asses to the next job....

    to get them to do other types of plumbing like roughing in a new home or having to dig a sump pump pit in a basement, you would think I was beating them with a whip.
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